User Research for UK Government Web Archive Service Case Study

Supporting The National Archives to gain a deep understanding of their users’ needs

Results at a glance

0 +
End user survey responses reviewed
0 +
Users rated UKGWA as an important resource
weeks, from project start to completion
Invuse Client Logo - The National Archives (TNA)

Prioritising the users and enhancing digital experience

The National Archives (TNA) wanted to work with a specialist user research team to thoroughly understand their user types and what the optimal experience looks like on their UK Government Web Archive (UKGWA).

In 2015, TNA conducted their own research and were aware of a high bounce rate. While users usually found what they were looking for on the website, there was a drop-off when using the search function. To address this issue, the organisation was looking to provide a quick and easy way for users to understand what they could do and how to do it. They also wanted to make it easier for regular users, such as solicitors, to find specific information.

Invuse committed to working with TNA and the UKGWA team to research, collate and analyse their users’ needs when using web archiving services, providing them with the evidence needed to make informed decisions to deliver an exceptional experience for all users.

“Invuse came to the project with an open mind and quickly created a good plan with the TNA team. The collaborative approach worked well and helped us to get useful, actionable insights in quite a short period of time."
Invuse Client Logo - The National Archives (TNA)
Tom Storrar
Head of Web Archiving

Further results of the project

  • This project was completed within 6 weeks to support a following project due to commence later this year
  • TNA was provided a detailed research report outlining the insights found, with a prioritised list of recommendations for improvements to be implemented
  • The report was presented to the team ensuring that TNA had the opportunity to ask questions and clearly understood the next steps
  • The research enabled TNA to create an optimal digital experience for their different user types based on user needs and motivations when using the archives
  • TNA can now make evidence-based decisions and continuously evolve their services
  • All of Invuse’s research was delivered and tested against GDS and WCAG standards

Project at a glance

The scope

  • Conduct research on user needs and behaviour for The National Archives’ UK Government Web Archive Service
  • The goal was to gain a deep understanding of how users interact with the service and identify pain points and areas for improvement
  • The research will involve user surveys, user testing, and analysis of web analytics data. The results of the research will inform recommendations for improving the user experience, including possible changes to the site’s information architecture and navigation
  • The project will also include a review of existing personas and the creation of new ones as needed
  • The research findings and recommendations will be presented in a final report to The National Archives team for consideration in future updates to the service

The process

  • Streamlined user experience through discovery, simplification, and enhancement
  • Established clear success criteria to measure the effectiveness of the project
  • Conducted scenario testing to gather quantitative data on user behaviour and preferences
  • Developed high-quality, reusable persona profiles to guide future projects and ensure user-centricity
  • Analysed website analytics to identify top search terms, user journeys, and bounce rates
  • Performed a comprehensive accessibility and usability audit to pinpoint areas for navigation improvement
  • Hosted 6 user interviews and engaged with key stakeholders to understand user needs, motivations, and pain points
  • Measured project outcomes against organisation-wide KPIs to demonstrate impact and ROI

The challenges

  • The consultants found the archives’ content and structure was complex, which made it difficult for users to find what they needed
  • We needed to understand the platform restrictions for creating and designing content to ensure our research only provided achievable outcomes
  • There were diverse needs of different user types, including historians, researchers, educators, and the general public
  • Technical challenges related to the preservation and display of archived web content, which can be affected by changes in technology and online platforms

In conclusion

The project with The National Archives was based on the methodology of user research and provided valuable insights into the needs of the users. By understanding the user’s journey and their motivations, TNA can create an enhanced digital experience that will lead to better engagement and increased user satisfaction. The project will help to ensure that TNA’s services are continuously evolving and meeting the needs of their end-users.

"I'm impressed with The National Archives' commitment to improving the digital experience of their users. The organisation's willingness to invest in user research and accessibility improvements shows their dedication to putting the user at the centre of their digital strategy. It has been a pleasure working with TNA on this project, and I'm confident that our insights and recommendations will help them create a more user-friendly and engaging platform for their diverse audience."
Cynthia Sipes
Invuse UX Researcher

About The National Archives

The National Archives (TNA) is a non-ministerial government department of the UK, responsible for collecting and preserving historical records, including government documents, letters, photographs, and maps. TNA holds over 11 million historical government and public records, making it one of the largest archives in the world. It provides access to these records through its website, and visitors can search for documents related to various topics, including family history, military history, and immigration. TNA plays a vital role in preserving the history of the UK and making it accessible to the public.

About UK Government Web Archive (UKGWA)

The UK Government Web Archive Service is a platform managed by The National Archives that captures and preserves government websites and their content. The service archives millions of web pages from UK government websites, making them accessible for current and future generations. The archive provides a valuable resource for researchers, historians, and the general public to explore how government websites and online communication have changed over time. The service is a critical tool for preserving the digital history of the UK and ensuring transparency and accountability in government.